Fashion is my passion. I knew from a young age, that it was my God-given purpose to encourage others to walk around with boldness. My story dates back from the time my family and I fled what is now known as South Sudan. At a young age my mom knew I was an artist because of my tendencies to draw. Growing up in Egypt I always insisted on dressing myself. I would design my own clothes and get the local tailors to bring them to life. As soon as I found out that we were immigrating to Canada, I started learning how to sew as my first goal. I was highly motivated and dedicated to the art of sewing, so much so that all the teachers surprised me before Christmas break in grade 11 with a brand new sewing machine, all out of pocket. They also bought me gift cards to buy sewing tools which I still use to this day. My determination led me as far as getting nominated for a private school scholarship, and having the opportunity by another foundation to complete a designing diploma - all expenses covered. Later on in University, I was selected as one of the top 25 finalists to showcase at Montreal Fashion week. Since school I’ve been growing my brand. September 2019, I had the opportunity to showcase in Paris and New York Fashion Week. In November 2019, I was selected as one of 5 designers to dress Tamron Hall for one of her segments. I got to meet Andre Leon Tally and he said to me “you are very talented, don’t ever give up.” I also remember in 10th grade I was asked about what I wanted to be, my answer was “to have my own brand”, in other words not to work for someone. I went to Fashion School to develop my skills, and while I was in school I came up with my brand name, but I knew it wasn’t a permanent name. When I started making custom made African printed clothing in 2012, the name QiQee came into the scene, this was a nickname I gave myself in 5th grade.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Coming from a family who took refuge in Canada we didn’t have much, so I was lacking funding re: starting my company in the beginning.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I am currently reading “How Successful People Think” by John C. Maxwell. And I recommend Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Well, some people who knew my family asked my mom why I was going to school to become a sewer? When I started my entrepreneurial journey, some went as far as calling me lazy. It really hurts because I am working so hard to accomplish my goals and I know God would want me to forgive those who hurt me and because I know His plans for me, I decided to focus and drop all the negative words and mediate in Biblical promises and God’s promises for me.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Remaining constant and pushing through every hurdle.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
There are ways and avenues to receiving help, not backing down to negativity and having plans and goals for each year.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Don’t sleep on your ideas, start with what you have, persistence is key!